Insert a multiple-selection list box

A multiple-selection list box is list of choices that looks like a scrollable list of check boxes instead of a typical list box. Users can select as many check boxes as necessary from the list. Depending on how you design the multiple-selection list box, users may also be able to type their own list item next to one of the check boxes.

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When to use a multiple-selection list box

Use a multiple-selection list box when you want to:

In the following illustration, users can assign expenses in an expense report form to multiple categories by selecting check boxes in a multiple-selection list box. The form designer has chosen to permit custom categories. Consequently, users can enter a value in an empty box next to the last check box in the list.

Custom value being added to list of choices in multiple-selection list box

After you insert a multiple-selection list box on your form template, you must specify the values that you want to appear in it. Otherwise, users will see an empty box when they open a form that is based on your form template. In the Multiple Selection List Box Properties dialog box, you can type the entries yourself or configure the multiple-selection list box to retrieve entries from a database or other data source.

Related controls

Microsoft Office InfoPath includes controls that are similar to multiple-selection list boxes but that serve different purposes. To decide which of these controls works best on your form template, refer to the following list:

List box    Like a multiple-selection list box, a standard list box allows users to select values in a list. However, with a list box, users can select only one item in the list. Like a multiple-selection list box, a list box displays all of the items in the list by default.

Drop-down list box    Like any other list, a drop-down list box offers users a list of choices. However, with drop-down list boxes, the list entries are hidden until the user clicks the control. Users can select only one item from a drop-down list.

Combo box    If you want your users to be able to type their own list entry or choose a value from a predefined list, use a combo box instead of a multiple-selection list box. Users can select only one item from a combo box.

Option buttons    Like a multiple-selection list box, a group of option buttons enables users to select from a list of choices. Unlike multiple-selection list boxes, users can select only one option from a group of option buttons. In addition, with option buttons, users click a small circle to make a choice instead of clicking an item in a list box.

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The user experience

With multiple-selection list boxes, users make choices by selecting or clearing check boxes in a box on the form. If the number of check boxes exceeds the height of the control, a scroll bar appears on the right side of the box so that users can see the remaining choices.

You can design your form template so that users can type their own entry in the list, if necessary. In this case, a check box with an edit box appears as the last item in the list.

Empty box in multiple-selection list box

To enter a custom value, users select the check box next to the edit box and then type their entry in the area next to the check box. For this to be possible, you must select the Allow users to enter custom values check box in the Multiple-Selection List Box Properties dialog box when you insert the multiple-selection list box onto your form template.

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Compatibility considerations

When you design a form template in InfoPath, you can choose to design a browser-compatible form template (browser-compatible form template: A form template that is designed in InfoPath by using a specific compatibility mode. A browser-compatible form template can be browser-enabled when it is published to a server running InfoPath Forms Services.). When you design a browser-compatible form template, multiple-selection list box controls are unavailable in the Controls task pane because they cannot be displayed in a Web browser.

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Insert a multiple-selection list box

The procedure for inserting a multiple-selection list box differs slightly depending on whether you are designing a new, blank form template or basing the design of your form template on a database or other external data source.

The following illustration shows how a multiple-selection list box looks when it is selected in design mode, before the form template designer has manually added the list box entries.

Empty multiple-selection list box selected in design mode

Controls can be bound or unbound. When a control is bound, it is connected to a field or group in the data source so that data entered into the control is saved in the underlying form (.xml) file. When a control is unbound, it is not connected to a field or group, and data entered into the control is not saved. When you select or move your pointer over a control, text and a binding icon appear in the upper-right corner of the control. The text indicates the group or field to which the control is bound in the data source. The icon indicates whether the control is correctly bound to that group or field. When the binding is correct, a green icon appears. If there's something wrong with the binding, you'll see a blue or red icon instead.

The data source for the form template consists of fields and groups that appear in a hierarchical view in the Data Source task pane. Multiple-selection list boxes are always bound to repeating fields (repeating field: A field in the data source that can occur more than once. Controls such as bulleted, numbered, and plain lists; repeating sections; and repeating tables can be bound to repeating fields.) inside a group (group: An element in the data source that can contain fields and other groups. Controls that contain other controls, such as repeating tables and sections, are bound to groups.). Repeating fields allow you to store more than one value in the field. In the following example, the Category multiple-selection list box on the form template is bound to the category repeating field in the Data Source task pane.

Relationship between mutliple-selection list box on form template and corresponding field in data source

When you design a new, blank form template, the Automatically create data source check box in the Controls task pane is selected by default. This enables InfoPath to automatically create fields and groups in the data source as you add controls to the form template. These fields and groups are represented by folder and file icons in the Data Source task pane.

If you base the design of your form template on an existing Extensible Markup Language (XML) file, database, or Web service, InfoPath derives the fields and groups in the Data Source task pane from that existing data source.

Insert a multiple-selection list box

  1. On the form template, place the cursor where you want to insert the control.
  1. If the Controls task pane is not visible, click More Controls on the Insert menu, or press ALT+I, C.
  1. In the Controls task pane, do one of the following:
    • To automatically create a repeating field in the data source that is bound to the multiple-selection list box, select the Automatically create data source check box.
    • To bind the multiple-selection list box to an existing repeating field, clear the Automatically create data source check box.

 Note   If the check box is unavailable, the data source is locked. For example, if you base the design of your form template on an XML Schema, you may not be able to add new fields or groups to the data source in InfoPath. This restriction helps to prevent you from inadvertently making changes to the schema that may render it invalid.

  1. Under Insert controls, click Multiple-Selection List Box.
  2. If you cleared the Automatically create data source check box in step 3, select a repeating field in the Multiple-Selection List Box Binding dialog box to which you want to bind the multiple-selection list box.
  3. On the form template, type the label text above or to the left of the multiple-selection list box, followed by a colon (:).
  4. To specify the values that you want to use as the entries in the list, double-click the multiple-selection list box.
  5. Click the Data tab.
  6. Do one of the following to populate the list box:

ShowType the list box values yourself

This option is useful when you have a predetermined, limited set of values, and you don't expect those values to change in the future. If the values do happen to change, you must publish an updated version of your form template so that users can see and use the latest list entries.

  • Click Add.
  • In the Value box, type the text that you want to store if a user selects this entry.
  • In the Display name box, type the text that you want to display for this entry, and then click OK.
  • Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each entry that you want to add to the list box.
  • To test your changes, click Preview on the Standard toolbar, or press CTRL+SHIFT+B.

ShowUse values from another part of the form

This option is useful when you want the values in your list to change, depending on other values that the users enter into their form.

  • Under List box entries, click Look up values in the form's data source.

The entries in the list box must be associated with a particular repeating group or repeating field on your form template.

  • Click Select XPath Button image next to the Entries box, and then in the Select a Field or Group dialog box, click the repeating field or repeating group that contains the fields that will provide the values for the list box, and then click OK.
  • Click Select XPath Button image next to the Value box, click the field that contains the possible values for the items in the list box, and then click OK. One of these values will be saved in the underlying XML when a user clicks an item in the list box.
  • Click Select XPath Button image next to the Display name box, click the field that contains the values that are displayed in the list box, and then click OK.

 Tip   To prevent display name values from appearing multiple times in the list box, select the Show only entries with unique display names check box.

ShowUse values from a database, Web service, XML document, or SharePoint site

This option is useful when you want the values in a list box to be up-to-date or refreshed regularly. The values are typically stored in a database or other external data source and are retrieved every time the form is opened.

  • Click Look up values from an external data source.
  • Do one of the following:
    • If you already added a data connection, click it in the Data Connection box.
    • To add a new data connection, click Add, and then follow the instructions in the Data Connection Wizard.

The entries in the list box must be associated with a particular repeating field or repeating group.

  • Click Select XPath Button image next to the Entries box, and then in the Select a Field or Group dialog box, click the group or field that contains the fields that will provide the values for the list box, and then click OK.
  • Click Select XPath Button image next to the Value box, click the field that contains the possible values for the items in the list box, and then click OK. One of these values will be saved in the underlying XML when a user clicks an item in the list box.
  • Click Select XPath Button image next to the Display name box, click the field that contains the values that are displayed in the list box, and then click OK.

 Tip   To prevent display name values from appearing multiple times in the list box, select the Show only entries with unique display names check box.

  1. If you want users to be able to type their own value at the bottom of the multiple-selection list box, select the Allow users to enter custom values check box.

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Layout tips

Use the following tips to help you refine the appearance, size, and other aspects of a multiple-selection list box:

  • To change the width of several multiple-selection list boxes at once, select the multiple-selection list boxes whose size you want to change, press ALT+ENTER, click the Size tab, and then in the Width box, type a new number.
  • To change the background color for several multiple-selection list boxes at once, select the multiple-selection list boxes that you want to change, on the Format menu, click Borders and Shading, and then on the Shading tab, make the necessary adjustments.
  • To customize the font that appears next to the check boxes in a multiple-selection list box, use the Font and Font Size boxes on the Formatting toolbar. To change the font and font size for all of the multiple-selection list boxes on your form template at once, click the multiple-selection list box that contains the formatting that you want, and then on the Format menu, click Apply Font to All Multiple-Selection List Box Controls.
  • To adjust the spacing between a multiple-selection list box and the objects that surround it on the form template, experiment with margin settings on the Size tab in the Multiple-Selection List Box Properties dialog box. Using margins to increase the spacing offers a finer degree of control than using paragraph breaks to increase the spacing.

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Applies to:
InfoPath 2007